Former Bronco Hixon shines for Giants

Posted by ESPN.com' s Bill Williamson

Domenik Hixon is the perfect example for NFL teams to hold onto their young talent.

Hixon, who starred for the New York Giants Monday night by catching two touchdown passes and returning a kickoff for a score all in the first quarter against Cleveland, was claimed off waivers last Oct. 3 by the Giants a day after he was cut by Denver. The Broncos had hoped to re-sign Hixon to the practice squad but the Giants ruined those plans.

Hixon contributed to the Giants' Super Bowl season. He returned a kickoff against New England in the team's loss in the regular-season finale and played a role as a returner in the Giants' amazing postseason run.

Hixon was a fourth-round pick by Denver in 2006. He was taken in the same round as standouts Brandon Marshall and Elvis Dumervil. Hixon missed all of his rookie season with a pre-existing foot injury. Thus, 2007 was the former Akron standout's rookie season. He started the year as a returner and spot receiver. Because of injuries, Hixon actually stated Denver's first preseason game last season.

On opening day last season, Hixon was the player hit by Buffalo's Kevin Everett on the opening kickoff of the second half. Hixon was nearly in tears in the Denver locker room after the Broncos won the game on the final play of the game.

Hixon was hesitant in ensuing kick returns and the Broncos decided he wasn't ready to be on the 53-man roster. Denver still wanted him in the program but the Giants stepped in. During the Super Bowl week, Hixon admitted that the Everett injury affected him. Hixon and Everett have become friends and Hixon was as thrilled as anyone when Everett began to walk.

Hixon is flourishing in New York and could play in the Giants' rotation.

Denver clearly cut ties with Hixon too early. Denver is not alone. At some point, every NFL team has given up on a young player too early. Hixon is just the latest example that youngsters often need time to grow. In this win-now league, however, patience isn't always exercised.